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Sidcup teenager campaigns for organ donation register

PUBLISHED: 13:00 15 November 2012

Alisha Gokani (left) and organ donation nurse Zoe Newman

Alisha Gokani (left) and organ donation nurse Zoe Newman

Keith Larby

Sidcup schoolgirl Alisha Gokani was a healthy 14-year-old girl when a shock diagnosis in April this year rocked her family to the core.

An organ donation packAn organ donation pack

The pupil of Blackfen School for Girls was told her kidneys were failing and she needed a transplant to survive.

Alisha was lucky – only one in two people are suitable for the operation.

For her mother, donor Manisha, the possibility of saving her daughter’s life was an easy decision to make and the pair went into surgery just a few weeks after Alisha was first diagnosed.

They travelled to London where Alisha was transferred to the children’s Evelina Hospital and Manisha to Guy’s Hospital. It was a tense time for the family – there was no guarantee that Manisha’s kidney would work – but Alisha remained composed.

“I knew I was in very good hands. Also I knew just how important this was and how it was going to change my life,” she explained.

Reunited four days later at the teenager’s bedside, mother and daughter were thrilled that the operation went smoothly and five months on Alisha’s recovery is on track. She returned to school in September.

She was so touched by her mother’s gift that she has become actively involved with the Organ Donation Register (ODR) and is hopeful more people, especially younger ones, will sign up.

Last Thursday she helped raise awareness for the cause as part of her school’s Citizenship Fair.

“I wanted to do something about organ donation at school because I know a lot about it and it’s changed my life.

“Before I had my operation, my friends threw me a surprise party and after they were all saying ‘well done’. That support really meant a lot.”

During the event at the school in Blackfen Road, Alisha handed out donor forms to classmates while talking about her experiences and how organ donation can help to save lives.

She arranged for Zoe Newman, an organ donation nurse in Kent, to attend to give her specialist opinion on the issue.

Zoe said: “Alisha’s story is an inspiring one as she not only overcame organ failure at a young age but decided to take her experience and turn it into something more positive.

“Organ transplants are the difference between life and death for so many people.

“There are currently more than 7,500 people in the UK waiting for an organ transplant and three people die every day while waiting.”

She continued: “Research shows that more than 90 per cent of people support organ donation yet only 30 per cent of the population have signed up.”

Alisha added: “Organ donation is a strong subject. I can’t thank my mum enough for what she’s done for me. I can’t think of a way that anyone can say thank you for a gift like this.”

n To sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, call 0300 123 0000, text ORGAN to 64118 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

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